Vidya Balan (born 1 January 1979) is an Indian actress. Known for pioneering a change in the portrayal of women in Hindi cinema with her roles in female-led films, she is the recipient of several awards, including a National Film Award and seven Filmfare Awards. She was awarded the Padma Shri by the Government of India in 2014.
Vidya aspired to a career in film from a young age and had her first acting role in the 1995 sitcom Hum Paanch. While pursuing a master’s degree in sociology from the University of Mumbai, she made several unsuccessful attempts to start a career in film, and featured in television commercials and music videos. She made her film debut by starring in the Bengali film Bhalo Theko (2003) and received praise for her first Hindi film, the drama Parineeta (2005). This was followed by commercial successes in Lage Raho Munna Bhai (2006) and Bhool Bhulaiyaa (2007), but her subsequent roles failed to propel her career forward.
Vidya went on to establish herself by starring as headstrong women in five consecutive commercial successes, which also earned her critical and awards recognition. These were in the drama Paa (2009), the black comedy Ishqiya (2010), the thrillers No One Killed Jessica and Kahaani (2012), and the biopic The Dirty Picture (2011). The last of these won her the National Film Award for Best Actress. Following a downturn, Vidya made a career comeback by playing cheerful women balancing work and family life in Tumhari Sulu (2017) and Mission Mangal (2019). The latter emerged as her highest-grossing release. Vidya has since starred in the Amazon Prime Video films Shakuntala Devi (2020), Sherni (2021), and Jalsa (2022).
Vidya also promotes humanitarian causes and supports the empowerment of women. She is a member of the Indian Central Board of Film Certification and has hosted a radio show. Early in her career, she drew criticism for her fluctuating weight and dress sense, but was later credited in the media for her unconventionality. Vidya is married to the film producer Siddharth Roy Kapur.
Early Life and Initial Career Struggles
Vidya was born on 1 January 1979 in Bombay (present-day Mumbai), into a Tamil Brahmin family. Her father, P. R. Balan, is the executive vice-president of Digicable and her mother, Saraswathy Balan, is a homemaker. According to Vidya, they speak a mix of Tamil and Malayalam at home. Her elder sister, Priya Balan, works in advertising. The actress Priyamani is her second cousin.
Vidya grew up in the suburban neighbourhood of Chembur, Mumbai and attended St. Anthony Girls’ High School. From a young age, she aspired to a career in film and was inspired by the work of actors Shabana Azmi and Madhuri Dixit. At the age of 16, she starred in the first season of Ekta Kapoor’s sitcom Hum Paanch as Radhika, a bespectacled teenager. After the series ended, Vidya refused director Anurag Basu’s offer to star in a television soap opera, as she wanted to concentrate on a film career. Her parents were supportive of the decision but encouraged her to complete her education first. She attended St. Xavier’s College to pursue a bachelor’s degree in sociology and later earned a master’s degree from the University of Mumbai.
While pursuing her master’s degree, Vidya was cast as the female lead in the Malayalam film Chakram, opposite Mohanlal and was subsequently signed on for 12 other Malayalam language films. However, due to production difficulties, Chakram was shelved. The postponement of a film starring Mohanlal was an unheard occurrence in Malayalam cinema and producers blamed Vidya for bringing “bad luck” to the project; labelled her as a “jinx”; and replaced her in the films that she had been contracted for. She shifted focus to Tamil cinema. In 2001, she was cast as the female lead in N. Linguswamy’s Run (2002). However, after completing the first shooting schedule, she was unceremoniously dropped and replaced by Meera Jasmine. She was signed up under false pretences for a sex comedy, a genre she was uncomfortable with, and decided to leave the project. She was also replaced by Meera Jasmine in Bala (2002). Thereafter, she signed on for a third Tamil film, Manasellam (2003), but was replaced by Trisha as the director was dissatisfied with her work. Kalari Vikraman, another Malayalam film that she completed work for in 2003, failed to get a theatrical release. After failing to start a film career, Vidya appeared in approximately 60 television commercials and in music videos for Euphoria and Shubha Mudgal; a majority of these were directed by Pradeep Sarkar.
The mass media has often speculated about a romantic relationship between Vidya and her co-actors, but she has strongly denied these reports. In 2009, Vidya was involved in a controversy when she mentioned a previous relationship in which “caustic remarks” were made at her due to her weight. She said, “If someone who matters to you takes you down, it can break you. That someone whose approval mattered to me started to constantly find faults with me. At that point of time, it was important to walk away from that relationship.” Though she refused to name the person, tabloid reports suggested that she was referring to Shahid Kapoor (her co-star in Kismat Konnection). Kapoor, however, denied the allegations. During an interview in May 2012, Vidya announced that she was dating Siddharth Roy Kapur, the CEO of UTV Motion Pictures. On 14 December 2012, the couple were married in a private ceremony in Bandra, Mumbai.
Vidya Balan Affair Measurements Height Weight Bra Size Age
|Real Name||Vidya P. Balan|
|Physical Stats & More|
|Height (approx.)||in centimeters- 163 cm|
in meters- 1.63 m
in Feet Inches- 5′ 4”
|Weight (approx.)||in Kilograms- 70 kg|
in Pounds- 154 lbs
|Eye Colour||Dark Brown|
|Date of Birth||1 January 1978|
|Age (as in 2023)||45 Years|
|Birth Place||Poothamkurussy, Puthur, Palakkad, Kerala, India|
|Zodiac sign/Sun sign||Capricorn|
|Hometown||Chembur, Mumbai , Maharashtra, India|
|School||St. Anthony Girls’ High School, Mumbai|
|College||St. Xavier’s College, Mumbai|
University of Mumbai, Mumbai
|Educational Qualifications||Masters degree in Sociology|
|Debut||Film: Bhalo Theko (2003, Bengali film)|
Parineeta (2005, Bollywood film)
TV: Hum Paanch (1995)
|Family||Father– P. R. Balan (Worked as Executive Vice-President of Digicable)|
Mother– Saraswathy Balan (Homemaker)
Sister– Priya Balan (Works for an advertising company)
|Address||A sea facing flat in Juhu Tara Road, Mumbai|
|Controversies||• In 2011, activists in South India protested and burned several posters of her film The Dirty Picture before its release. Not only that, but Silk Smitha’s brother also moved to the Andhra Pradesh High Court to oppose his sister’s portrayal in the film.|
• There were rumours that marriage with Siddharth Roy Kapoor was on the rocks, because Siddharth had apparently fallen for another woman! But it could all be a jealous woman’s tale, for all we know.
|Favourite Food||Thai cuisine|
|Favourite Actors||Shah Rukh Khan, Amitabh Bachchan, Morgan Freeman, Al Pacino|
|Favourite Actresses||Shabana Azmi, Madhuri Dixit, Kate Winslet, Julie Delphy, Julia Roberts|
|Favourite Films||Bollywood: Gol Maal (1979)|
Hollywood: Before Sunrise, Before Sunset
|Favourite Directors||Gulzar, Hrishikesh Mukherjee|
|Favourite Musicians||Zakir Hussain, Michael Jackson, Enrique Iglesias, Indian Ocean, Midival Punditz|
|Favourite Perfume||Issey Miyake, Elizabeth Arden|
|Favourite Destination||New York and New Zealand|
|Boys, Affairs and More|
|Affairs/Boyfriends||Siddharth Roy Kapur (Businessman and Producer)|
|Husband/Spouse||Siddharth Roy Kapur, Businessman and Producer (2012-present)|
|Marriage Date||14 December 2012|
|Cars Collection||Mercedes E-Class|
|Salary (approx.)||10 crore/film (INR)|
|Net Worth (approx.)||$15 million|
Vidya expanded into South Indian cinema in 2019, with roles in the two-part Telugu biopic, N.T.R: Kathanayakudu and N.T.R: Mahanayakudu, and the Tamil drama Nerkonda Paarvai. In the former two, about the actor-politician N. T. Rama Rao, she played Rao’s first wife. Both films failed commercially. In Nerkonda Paarvai, a remake of the courtroom drama Pink (2016), she briefly played the wife of Ajith Kumar’s character. Although not keen on remakes, she agreed to the project to bring attention to its theme of sexual consent. Srinivasa Ramanujam of The Hindu dismissed the portions involving Vidya as inessential. It emerged as one of the highest-grossing Tamil films of the year. Vidya teamed with Akshay Kumar for the third time in Mission Mangal, about the Mars Orbiter Mission, which marked India’s first interplanetary expedition. She liked the idea of playing a seemingly ordinary homemaker who balances her family life with her work as a scientist, and she was also pleased to work with four other leading ladies. Joe Leydon of Variety found Vidya to be “drop-dead perfect from wire to wire”, and she was awarded with another Best Actress nomination at Filmfare. With global earnings of ₹2.9 billion (US$36 million), Mission Mangal emerged as her highest-grossing release.
The short film Natkhat (2020), about a mother teaching her young son about gender equality, marked Vidya’s first production venture. It premiered on YouTube as part of the We Are One: A Global Film Festival. She then portrayed the mental calculator Shakuntala Devi in an eponymous biopic, which due to the COVID-19 pandemic could not release theatrically and instead streamed on Amazon Prime Video. The director Anu Menon cast Vidya as she believed that Devi’s “gregarious and flamboyant” personality matched that of the actress; in preparation, Vidya listened to interviews of Devi’s daughter and husband, and watched online videos of Devi. Mike McCahill of The Guardian praised Vidya’s “all-shotguns-blazing performance” and The Hindu’s Kenneth Rosario took note of her “ability to smoothly transition between age and appearances, but even she can’t salvage a rather mawkish finale to the film”. She received two more Filmfare nominations for her performance in it.
The following year, Vidya starred as an Indian Forest Service officer tracking a man-eating tigress in the environmental thriller Sherni (2021). In preparation, she met two forest officers and went on forest trails with them, and read Peter Wohlleben’s book The Hidden Life of Trees. Sukanya Verma opined that Vidya’s “refreshingly subdued portrayal” was a departure from the “self-aware feminist” roles that she had previously played. She was awarded with another Filmfare Critics Award for Best Actress for her performance. Vidya next starred alongside Shefali Shah in the thriller Jalsa (2022), which marked her third consecutive film to release on Amazon Prime Video. She played a journalist involved in a hit-and-run, a morally ambiguous character that she was initially hesitant to play. Monika Rawal Kukreja of Hindustan Times believed that the performances of Vidya and Shah had enhanced a mediocre picture.
Vidya will next feature alongside Pratik Gandhi in an as-yet untitled romantic comedy and reunite with Anu Menon for a murder mystery film titled Neeyat.
Following the success of Parineeta and Lage Raho Munna Bhai, Vidya’s film roles were subject to wide critical analysis. Vir Sanghvi noted that the films Heyy Babyy and Kismat Konnection were “strange films in which she tried to pretend to be what she is not — a Bollywood bimbette.” Vidya described that particular phase in her career as a “struggle to be someone else”. Due to the criticism that her film choices evoked, Vidya decided to choose roles that she “believed in” rather than choose by convention. Members of the media have subsequently labelled her as “bold” and “daring” in her choices.
Vidya at the GQ Men of the Year Awards, 2013
Her starring roles in Heyy Babyy and Kismat Konnection also led to considerable attention in the media for her “questionable wardrobe”. Several publications listed her as the “worst dressed actress” and her costume designers attributed her failure to carry off western clothes due to her weight and body structure. She was later praised in the media for wearing saris at public events; designer Niharika Khan explained, “Vidya’s beauty lies in her curves. She’s comfortable in her voluptuousness, and therefore in a sari.” Vidya has since been identified as defying “an anglicised idea of sexuality” and embody the idea of “raw Indian sexuality”.
After portraying strong-willed protagonists in Paa, Ishqiya, No One Killed Jessica, The Dirty Picture and Kahaani, Vidya was credited in the media for pioneering a movement that breaks the stereotypical portrayal of heroines in Bollywood. The major commercial success of the latter two earned her the title of a “female hero” and Kalpana Nair of Firstpost noted that with these two films Vidya spearheaded a change in the roles that were offered to actresses over 30. Critic Mayank Shekhar predicted, “Just a few smart male actors can completely change the face of a commercial, star-driven film industry. Looking at Vidya Balan it appears, that change could well originate from the leading lady instead.”In 2023, Rajeev Masand named her one of Hindi cinema’s best actresses.
Vidya Balan is an Indian actress known for her work in Hindi films. She made her acting debut in 1995 with the sitcom Hum Paanch, following which she made several unsuccessful attempts at a film career. Vidya then appeared in music videos for Euphoria, Pankaj Udhas, and Shubha Mudgal all directed by Pradeep Sarkar. She had her first film release with a leading role in Goutam Halder’s Bengali film Bhalo Theko (2003). In 2005, she played the heroine in Sarkar’s Parineeta, an adaptation of Sarat Chandra Chattopadhyay’s novel of the same name. Vidya won the Filmfare Award for Best Female Debut for the film. Rajkumar Hirani’s Lage Raho Munna Bhai (2006), a successful comedy sequel, saw her play a radio jockey opposite Sanjay Dutt.
Vidya had five releases in 2007. She played a variety of roles in them, including a woman suffering from multiple sclerosis in Mani Ratnam’s semi-biographical drama Guru, a single mother in the comedy Heyy Babyy, and a dissociative identity disorder patient in the psychological thriller Bhool Bhulaiyaa. All three films were commercially successful and established her as a leading lady. The following year, she starred opposite Ajay Devgan in the drama Halla Bol (2008) and Shahid Kapoor in the romantic comedy Kismat Konnection (2008), but both failed to find a wide audience.
From 2009 to 2012, Vidya starred in five consecutive films that garnered her critical and commercial success. She played the mother of a child afflicted with progeria in the drama Paa (2009), a seductive widow in the black comedy Ishqiya (2010), and the real-life character of Sabrina Lal in the semi-biographical thriller No One Killed Jessica (2011). For portraying the actress Silk in the biopic The Dirty Picture, Vidya won the National Film Award for Best Actress. She next played a pregnant woman seeking revenge in Kahaani (2012), a thriller directed by Sujoy Ghosh. She was awarded the Filmfare Award for Best Actress for her roles in Paa, The Dirty Picture, and Kahaani, and the Filmfare Critics Award for Best Actress for Ishqiya.
Vidya failed to replicate this success with her next few releases, although her performance in the thriller Kahaani 2: Durga Rani Singh (2016) was praised. This changed in 2017 when she played a radio jockey in Tumhari Sulu, for which she won another Best Actress Award at Filmfare. Her highest-grossing release came with the drama Mission Mangal (2019). She has since starred in the Amazon Prime Video streaming films Shakuntala Devi (2020), Sherni (2021), and Jalsa (2022). She won another Filmfare Critics Award for Best Actress for playing an Indian Forest Service officer in Sherni.
|2006||Lage Raho Munna Bhai||Jhanvi Sahni|
|2007||Guru||Meenakshi “Meenu” Saxena (née Gupta)|
|Eklavya: The Royal Guard||Rajjo Singh|
|Heyy Babyy||Isha B. Sahni|
|Bhool Bhulaiyaa||Avni Chaturvedi / Manjulika|
|Om Shanti Om||Herself||Special appearance in song “Deewangi Deewangi”|
|2008||Halla Bol||Sneha Khan|
|Kismat Konnection||Priya Saluja|
|2011||No One Killed Jessica||Sabrina Lal|
|Urumi||Makkom / Bhoomi||Malayalam film; special appearance|
|Thank You||Divya Khurana||Cameo|
|Dum Maaro Dum||Mrs. Kamath||Cameo|
|The Dirty Picture||Reshma (Silk)|
|2012||Kahaani||Vidya Venkatesan Bagchi|
|Ferrari Ki Sawaari||Unnamed||Special appearance in song “Mala Jau De”|
|Once Upon ay Time in Mumbai Dobaara!||Unnamed||Cameo|
|Mahabharat||Draupadi (voice)||Animated film|
|2014||Shaadi Ke Side Effects||Trisha Mallik|
|Bobby Jasoos||Bilkis “Bobby” Ahmed|
|2015||Hamari Adhuri Kahani||Vasudha Prasad|
|Ekk Albela||Geeta Bali||Marathi film; special appearance|
|Kahaani 2: Durga Rani Singh||Vidya Sinha / Durga Rani Singh|
|2017||Begum Jaan||Begum Jaan|
|Tumhari Sulu||Sulochana “Sulu” Dubey|
|NTR: Mahanayakudu||Basavatarakam||Telugu film|
|Nerkonda Paarvai||Kalyani Bharath||Tamil film; special appearance|
|Mission Mangal||Tara Shinde|
|Shakuntala Devi||Shakuntala Devi|
|1995||Hum Paanch||Radhika Mathur||Zee TV||Episode 52- 148|
|2014||No More Kamzor||Host||Star Plus||TV special|
Music Video Appearances
|2002||“Aana Meri Gully”||Bengali bride||Euphoria|
|2002||“Main Nashe Mein Hoon”||Bengali girl||Pankaj Udhas|
|2003||“Kisson Ki Chadar”||Unknown||Shubha Mudgal|
|2011||“Jaani Na”||Bengali wife||Chandrabindoo|